Concerned, Rahul Bajaj wants quick ride back to heyday

fe Bureau Posted online: Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 0000 hrs
Pune : Bajaj Auto chairman Rahul Bajaj has expressed concerns over the company's flat topline growth and a 4-percentage-point drop in domestic market share. “Why should your company, with its outstanding offerings of motorcycles, lose 4 percentage points of domestic market share to 20% in 2013-14,” Bajaj asked in the company’s 2013-14 annual report. He wants to see the streets zipping with Pulsars, Discovers, Platinas and KTM Dukes, and the return of dominance of ‘Hamara Bajaj’, just like his scooters did at one point.

Bajaj was confident that Rajiv Bajaj, MD, would take decisions that were in the best long-term interest of the company. He has applauded the management team for responding to the challenging environment and delivering the company's highest Ebitda. “If the Bajaj Auto management could produce superior Ebitda margins in a challenging year, it is best placed in the industry to delivery higher sales and a greater market share when the headwinds disappear,” Bajaj said. Bajaj ended FY14 with an 8.7% fall in sales volumes to 3.87 million units and a flat operating income.

The chairman hopes demand for motorcycles will rise if consumer confidence returns and translates into purchases held back over the last few years, especially with the new government at the helm.

Bajaj said there was a sense of optimism in the air and, like many in industry and the corporate world, he hoped that the new government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet colleagues, would focus on removing impediments to growth, allowing the corporate sector to regain its entrepreneurial ‘animal spirits’ that had all but disappeared in the last few years under the Congress-led UPA.

"It will be a difficult task and much needs to be done, especially in the first six months to a year of governance to demonstrate definitive growth intent. I wish Modi and his team well but with a warning: many believed that when the UPA-II government was formed in 2009, with a stronger mandate and without the drag-down presence of the communist parties, there would be a burst of much-needed reform. As we know, these did not occur. The new NDA government must, therefore, ensure that this is not another false dawn. India cannot afford that mistake yet again,” Bajaj warns.